Barnet UNISON Mental Health workers began strike action on pay in September 2023.
This is a live wall which is continuously updated as messages of solidarity are sent to our branch. SEE BELOW
We’re sending you our messages of solidarity from across our nations and regions and particularly from our branches in the North West.
That was a fantastic result with 100% voting for strike action. What Barnet Unison Mental health social worker did it is the perfect and strongest messages for the rest of other health workers that :
It is the ” U ”
And the “I ” in the UNION
That makes us
The Labour movement was the principal force that transformed the misery and despair into hope that progress. Yes, we can win
Once again Congratulations
Black Members Reserved Seat, NEC
UNISON Vice President
“I want to congratulate every one of the Barnet Unison Mental Health Social Workers who sent back their strike ballot. 78.95% returned ballots with a 100% vote for strike action is an incredible victory against the Tory anti trade union laws and a victory for the collective unity of the workers. United we are strong.
This action from Unison members is in defence of their jobs and to protect the communities services under attack from further cuts and profiteering.
Your fightback is inspirational and sends a clear message that enough is enough.
Congratulations once again and solidarity. Libby Nolan, UNISON President.
“Social Workers do a difficult but essential job, providing a service to some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Working in Local Government we’re all too familiar with the impact of cuts to funding – we have less resources and less people to try to provide the same level of service. And we know that austerity impacts on people’s mental health, meaning at times like we have now, your service is even more critical.
We also know that we can provide a better service if we are paid and treated properly. But the government and too often our bosses don’t value us – although they never seem to have a problem paying themselves more money!
In a society that is increasingly divided, where we have more billionaires than ever before, it’s disgraceful that important workers like you aren’t paid properly. Your ballot result was amazing – smashing through the Tory anti-union threshold and having 100% in favour of action is brilliant!
We currently have a group of our branch members out on indefinite strike – they too voted 100% for action – and Barnet UNISON has consistently supported our members. It is a privilege to be able to return the solidarity and support you. If you end up needing to take action, we will be visiting your picket lines and looking at how else we can show our support.
In solidarity, Liz Wheatley Branch Secretary Camden UNISON
Dear Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers,
I want to take a moment to express my wholehearted support and solidarity with you as you make the courageous decision to go on strike. It’s clear that Barnet Council has not adequately recognized the serious understaffing problems within your frontline Mental Health social work teams.
Your dedication to providing crucial mental health services is truly admirable, and it’s disheartening to see your concerns go unaddressed. It’s essential for all workers to have safe and manageable workloads to deliver the best care to those who depend on your services.
I applaud your commitment to standing up for your rights and the well-being of your clients. It’s a challenging step to take, but your actions are a testament to your unwavering dedication to the welfare of the community you serve.
Please know that many people, both within and outside your community, are behind you during this difficult time. Your fight for better conditions and staffing levels is just one, and I hope that Barnet Council will listen and take action to address these critical issues promptly.
Stay strong and resolute in your cause and may your strike lead to positive changes that benefit both you and the individuals who rely on your essential services.
In solidarity, Mohamed, Barnet Unison
I have heard you are out on strike. I am a school nurse leader in Tameside, Greater Manchester but I used to work in Barnet 2005-2012. I want you to know you have my full support. We will never get experienced staff to stay unless we pay them better and it is patients and service users who lose out when they are not there. We have precisely the same issue in school nursing and health visiting – plus I see Tameside social workers are nearly always agency because they can’t afford not to be. I see them burn out within months and have families on my caseload who have had 6 social workers in 12 months. It isn’t good enough and it isn’t the fault of the workers, or even their management. Loads of complex issues but, if you consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they need to start at the bottom and recruit and retain staff in order to start to make inroads on the other issues. Sending you the best of luck with your strike and hoping someone ‘who can’ sits up and takes notice. Natalie Jones ,School Nurse Practice Education and Development Lead Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
Hello, I’ve heard that social workers are striking. I’m a discharge team nurse at UCLH and want to say that I appreciate all that you do and totally support your action.
Just wanting to send a message to striking social work staff, we’re all on the same side and the public support is there. We’re not backing down, not for this government nor the next one.
Enough is enough. Graham.
Can you please pass on this message of support and solidarity to the mental health social workers taking strike action?
I have worked for over 30 years in mental health services in Salford. I have the greatest respect for my social work colleagues in mental health services, and I am aware of the stress they work under, with high caseload numbers and low pay. Our most experienced staff are becoming burnt out, as they try and work under these testing conditions.
There is a severe shortage of mental health front line staff, and your inspirational action is the most effective way to deal with these issues. Our branch will be supporting your campaign, and we will encourage other branches to get involved in your struggle.
Kevin Corran UNISON NEC (Health) Assistant Branch Secretary Gtr Manchester Mental Health Branch UNISON
Hi to all the striking social workers in Barnet mental health teams.
I am a mental health worker in Manchester and want to offer you both my and my colleagues full support in your fight for recruitment and retention premiums. Low pay for what we do is endemic across the public sector. And the work is hard and stressful. We will never retain experienced staff if we don’t pay them properly and its users of our services, their carers and the wider community and mental health workers who suffer when we are given responsibilities above our experience levels.
The money is there to pay you. I’ll is still one of the richest countries in the world and profits continue to rise, 75% since the beginning of the pandemic. Why didn’t our wages go up the same??
This government wants to cut out pay and our services. You are standing up for both. You are an inspiration. We are trying to run a similar campaign right across our inpatient and CMHT staff groups. If you win this will encourage our staff.
All the very best. We will discuss a donation to your hardship fund at our next meeting.
Karen Reissmann, Vice chair greater Manchester mental health unison branch
I’m a medical student with the BMA, having worked as an HCA with the RCN the previous year. I just wanted to send a massive message of solidarity for turning out on strike in the coming weeks. Across the health sector workers and patients have been brutalised and exploited. Standing up as you are is vital, not just for yourself but for all those who work, use, or believe in public healthcare free at delivery.
You, and millions of other healthcare workers in the UK and beyond, all deserve massive pay rises and far better conditions. Without pay, we have no staff. Without staff, there is no NHS.
Strike to win!
I stand by all the social workers who have to strike in order to get their voices heard.
On behalf of Hendon School Unison support staff we would like to say we offer our
support to the Social workers at Barnet Council in their dispute as we fully appreciate
how hard and what a difficult job you do, and the dedication you need to support
Children and adults in need in the community.
David – Unison Rep – Hendon School.
Solidarity from all at Kirklees Unison for your Branches Mental health social workers on strike tomorrow.
Mick Donoghue Branch Secretary Convenor Kirklees Unison
Sending support and solidarity to Barnet’s adult mental health social workers from union members at Tudor Primary School. Wishing you strength and determination for a swift victory with an outcome that meets your demands and recognises the need for the service to be well funded and fully staffed, with a stable workforce that can meet the needs of your clients.
Workers in schools know, from our daily experience at work, the importance of good mental health support and social support for our local community. Workers providing these services must not be taken for granted.
Solidarity for your struggle for decent pay and staff retention!
David Ball, Unison rep at Tudor Primary School, Finchley
“Support and solidarity from Leeds East in your fight for fair pay. You do such vital work and it needs to be recognised and fairly remunerated. Solidarity! Richard Burgon MP”.
This one is from Ian Byrne MP Sending solidarity from Liverpool West Derby for your fight for fair pay and conditions. Your fight is our fight & we are all behind your struggle. Ian Byrne MP
This one is from Graeme Morris MP Top Solidarity and every support for your just cause for fair pay for the vital work you do from Grahame Morris MP for Easington and Chair of the Unite Group In Parliament.
This one from Andy McDonald MP “Solidarity from Middlesbrough. Yours is just cause. Huge thanks for the vitally important work you do for us all. You have the respect and admiration of the whole country but dignity at work can only be secured if it is founded on fair and proper pay. We stand with you in your struggle”
This one from Ian Mearns MP Respect and solidarity from Gateshead. Your cause is just and true appreciation is not about banging pans on the doorstep but standing side by side with you in your struggle for a fair and decent wage!
This one from Ian Lavery MP Massive Solidarity from Wansbeck. This constant fight for simple justice for decent wages terms and conditions alongside the real issue of respect in the workplace should be basic human rights. Your fight is our fight too. Respect and solidarity Ian Lavery MP.
This one from Rebecca Long Bailey MP “Solidarity from Salford. Your role holds our NHS together. Full support in your fight for the pay and respect you deserve”
This from Apsana Begum MP “Solidarity from East London. Keep up the good fight and thank you for looking after the most vulnerable of people in our society. Apsana Begum MP, UNISON member.”
This one from Kim Johnson MP Support and solidarity from Liverpool Riverside, long time member and former rep, your fight is our fight✊🏽
From Christine Blower Labour member of Lords “Solidarity in this struggle for the pay you need and deserve.’
From Shami Chakrabarti Labour House of Lords “Total solidarity in your struggle, not just for your own pay, conditions and dignity but for the defence of the vital health services of us all.” – Shami C
From Kate Osborne MP Please pass on my solidarity.
Please send my colleagues a message of solidarity from me and I will try and join the picket line for a while on 4th and 11th October if I can.
I understand all your frustrations about pay and working conditions and that these need to keep pace with Family Services. Our work serves the community equally and should be acknowledged as of equal value. Burnt out workers is too high a price to pay!
See you on the picket line!
Kind regards. Liz Shaw
Sending our mental health social work colleagues my support, in what are already challenging times, in more ways than one. Thinking of you all in these very difficult times. You all do an amazing job!!
Kind Regards Fiona Wood
I fully support the action you are taking. It is terrible how a job that is as important as yours is under paid and therefore completely undervalued. We need social workers and I am really sorry you have been treated so shoddily.
Congratulations, your first day looks fabulous. We work in a mental health NHS trust and are looking to mirror your dispute. Safe Staffing does not exist anywhere and will only be solved when they pay staff enough to recruit more of us.
Well done for today, solidarity from Greater Manchester mental health unison, we are sure you can win and hopefully will inspire more fight backs
Karen Reissmann GMMH Unison.
Can I on behalf of Unison’s Medway Health Branch ( Gillingham, Kent ) pass on our solidarity and best wishes to all involved in your industrial action. Stay strong, what you are doing is an inspiration and gives confidence to us all.
In Solidarity, Andrew Travers, Branch Secretary, Unison.
I regret that I can’t be with you today, and I hope to join your picket line in the next strike days.
So for the time being, I am sending you my sentiments of admiration for your determination to resolve the impossible working conditions you are experiencing, your determination to resolve it for the sake of your service users as much as for your own sake.
As a social worker myself, having worked in Early Intervention in Psychosis as well as with people living with mental illnesses and dementia, and as someone whose nearest and dearest need and benefit from mental health services, I know only too well the crucial role of a mental health social worker.
No one but you is there to really SEE your service users in their pain, confusion and suffering. You are the ones who see their whole person, in their environment and unique circumstances, and you are the ones who can bring their voice to the attention of the medical staff in multidisciplinary teams, and advocate for them. Every one of your clients NEEDS you – need a social worker!
Without you it would be only the medical model that prevails, to the frustration of so many service users.
And we all know that often people disengage from mental health services out of frustration, as they feel unseen and unheard in the face of the medical approach that sees only the illness.
You are the ones who understand your users and can keep them engaged with the service.
They need you to be able to do you work properly! Barnet Mental Health Services needs you! Our community needs you! Our society needs you!
So thank you for taking action, thank you for making this difficult decision to strike – I am sure that your clients know you are fighting for them too. And so should your bosses know!
Best of success in your strike – I hope it will not need to be long…
Tirza Waisel, Barnet resident and social worker
Please pass on my message of solidarity to the striking social workers. I hope the strike goes well and has a great outcome for them (and ultimately the people they serve).
Although I now work for the CQC, I used to be a community mental health nurse working in an integrated health and social services team. Community mental health staff had a tough job, which must be so much harder now after over a decade of austerity (I left in 2012).
I am sorry I can’t get to a picket line – Barnet is a rather long way from Dorset and I am flat out at work (and as a union steward), so can’t take the time off.
All the very best, Alison Mesher (Member and activist of UNISON Dorset)
In an ever-changing world and with all the challenges we have to face every day, this is not an easy job to work in. There is an increasing need in this area especially after the pandemic and the more awareness which is being sent out about Mental health.
Sending all lots of positive energies and strength they can achieve a good outcome and resolution ; just so unfortunate people are having to go on strike to make themselves heard .
Good Luck 😊
I am sending you greetings and a message of support from the Whittington Hospital Branch of Unison. We are pleased to let you know that we have agreed to donate £150 to your strike fund at our Branch Committee Yesterday.
We believe that your fight for pay equity is completely just and should be honoured by Barnet Council. Working in the NHS we fully understand the need to pay staff fairly and equally for what they do – this goes a long way to retain and recruit people. There are enormous pressures on staff who work in mental health who often do long hours unpaid, and like staff in the NHS experience burnout. Your decision to take strike action for pay equity with Barnet’s Family Service Social Workers must be supported.
We hope to bring our banner to any rallies that you may be holding and show our solidarity……!!! This is a fight that you must win!
On Behalf of the Whittington Hospital Branch of Unison,
In Solidarity, Claire Dixon, Whittington Health UNISON Branch Secretary,
I live in Barnet, and I’m a long-term mental health service user. I didn’t know that social workers in Barnet are on different pay grades, this is completely unacceptable, and I have written to Barnet council to urge them to equitably apply their recruitment and retention policy and to demonstrate that they value mental health community services as much as Children and Family Services.
Due to my poor mental health I can’t stand with you on the picket line today but you have my full support for your strike action, and I am with you in spirit. Thank you for all the great work you do.
Dear Barnet Hounslow colleagues
I am Bill Reed, Secretary of Hounslow LG Unison Branch. Solidarity and our full support to your members in Mental Health social work on their dispute and recent strike action. We in Hounslow are appalled by what we read of your Labour Council’s attitude to the strike but support the resolve of your members to get a fair settlement of their dispute.
Hounslow Unison has a Committee meeting on Wednesday 18 October, commencing at 4.30 pm, and we would like to invite a speaker from your Branch or from the dispute, to tell us the full picture of the way this dispute arose and the way the Branch has responded.
You may have received these requests from Ian Clements who is Chair of the Trades Council. If there is duplication I apologise.
We hope to give material support to your cause at both meetings.
Many thanks Bill Reed
Dear Barnet UNISON,
I am writing on behalf of Lambeth UNISON to express our support and solidarity for your social work strike. Your action is essential for your social workers, social workers across the country and service users who need to see an improvement.
We hope hoped you would be able to arrange a speaker (in person or via zoom) to speak to our social work members about your action.
In solidarity, Ruth Cashman
Gabby Lawler Branch Secretary of Havering UNISON sending solidarity to all Barnet UNISON Mental Health Social Workers who begin their strike action.
Good luck with your dispute and as a union activist I and all of Havering UNISON Branch are standing with you. Social Work is a tough job in any climate but after the many years of austerity and cuts in social care as well as local government funding the role of a Mental Health Social Worker has become challenging and in some local authorities unsafe by way of case numbers. Recruitment and Retention is essential in keeping residents safe and your fight for pay equality is justified and Havering UNISON wish you every success in your strike, stand tall and stand together.
We are with you every step of the way.
Gabby Lawler Branch Secretary of Havering UNISON
I’m sorry I can’t be with you today – I had a prior engagement meeting with Higher Education activists to discuss their own fight for better pay. But I’d like to send my full support and solidarity to Barnet and Brighton social workers in this crucial dispute. I know none of you will have taken lightly the decision to take strike action – you’re doing it because you need to. And I am with you all the way.
Social work is a vital profession. You do enormously difficult work, supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society, and you do it in the face of a kind of media and political scrutiny which is completely unwarranted. The majority of local authorities are struggling to hold onto the social workers they have, and it’s not surprising, given what you have to put up with.
Please know that all of UNISON stands with you in your fight for better pay and conditions. Solidarity and best wishes.
Mike Short – head of local government
Just to let you know, there are PLENTY of right-minded people who support your action & wish you success.
Kind Regards, Des
Please pass the message of Solidarity to the Mental Health Workers and let us hope that Barnet council respond to your strike. You are a valuable resource for the Council.
Kind regards Zeenat Syed TUC and NEU Barnet
I am writing in my capacity of Chair of the South West UNISON Regional Local Government Service Group to stand in solidarity to the members within your Branch who have been forced to take strike action in order to defend their rights, pay and jobs. We know that in local government, and in social work, this is an extremely difficult stance to take and one that is not taken lightly. Many of our Committee are experiencing issues with recruitment and retention of social workers within their own employers, who believe market supplements and other unfair and unsustainable methods will help them in their cause. Instead, as you have shown, it is making members angry, upset and concerned to the point that they can do nothing else but take this type of action. You and your members are inspirational to us all, and we wish you the greatest support with all future negotiations
Kerry Gray Chair UNISON South West Local Government Service Group